Praying in the Name of Jesus
If you have ever been to a Church during prayer sessions, you must have repeatedly heard the refrain 'In Jesus' name'. The refrain is used in many different forms. One may say 'In Jesus name' or 'In the name of Jesus'. A more orthodox crowd may prefer to say 'through Christ our Lord'. Firebrand Pentecostals prefer to qualify the refrain by adding words like 'mighty', 'powerful', 'supernatural', etc. So you'll hear 'in Jesus' mighty name'. At the mention of the refrain, the response is usually the same across the board - 'AMEN'. On Social media, due to preference for the short and pithy, the refrain is usually just abbreviated to IJN or ijn (it really doesn't matter).
The notion fueling the regular use of this refrain is the belief that there is power merely in "the name of Jesus". Therefore, as long as you add the refrain to your prayers, powerful things would begin to happen. After all the Bible says to ask anything in the name of Jesus and it will be done for us. The focus and emphasis here is anything. After endless prayers without any change, people begin to silently accuse God of not keeping his word. "How would God promise to answer our prayers as long as we use the name of Jesus and then refuse to keep his word?" I do strongly believe there is power in the name of Jesus only when the name is used not as a magic spell, but in the right sense.
Using the name of Jesus as a mere refrain misrepresents the name and nature of its bearer. Using the name of Jesus as a mere addendum to a prayer demotes the majesty of the name to a mere magic word or worse still, a ritualistic spell imbued with magical powers. The truth is the name of Jesus was never meant to be used in this way. While there is nothing wrong with adding the name of Jesus to your prayers, it is an absolute travesty to do so with wrong intentions and expectations. What does the Bible really say about praying in the name of Jesus?
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.
What was Jesus really saying in these passages? Was He revealing the formula for receiving answers to prayers? Was He exposing the code to unlock heaven's gates? Was He revealing the magic words? I think He was doing more than that.
Indeed, Jesus was telling us how to pray, He was also telling us in whom to pray. You see, the death and resurrection of Christ secured salvation for us. By virtue of the work of Christ, we have been justified. Therefore, when God looks at us, He sees us in Christ. Therefore, when we pray in the name of Jesus, we do as representatives of Christ. Using a medieval courtroom as a metaphor, prayer is like presenting a request before the King. A well known criminal would have his request readily turned down even if he makes the request in the name of the king's ally. An ambassador on the other hand, making a request in the name of his king receives swift response. The ambassador's request may only be turned down if the nature of his request betrays the nature and character of his king.
As a Christian therefore, praying in the name of Jesus is akin to an ambassador making a request in the name of his king. His request must align with the nature, desires and character of his king. We can come boldly to the throne of grace, but we must ensure that the petitions we come with align with the desires of Christ for our lives. Using the name of Jesus is as meaningless as farting in the wind if your prayers are a mere stroking of your ego. God is not interested in your pride of status and position, He is only interested in the fulfillment of his plans and purposes. Every wise Christian therefore would seek to know the nature, character and desires of Christ so that we can truly pray in His name.
Remember, the name of Jesus is not a magic word, it is not mere addendum to your prayers, it is the embodiment of the nature of the God-man. Before praying in the name of Jesus, ask yourself this important question - "does this prayer sound like what Jesus would pray?"